Waking in the Forest, Survivor Magic, Plant Medicine, Feminist Solidarity, and Movement and Meaning: Student Workshops at the Spring 2018 Residency

Here’s a sampling of some of the workshops presented by students at the Spring 2018 residency in February at Goddard College:

Micah Mortali near the Goddard Woods

Awake in the Forest: Practices for Deepening Your Bond with Nature, HAS student, Micah Mortali. In this workshop we will explore the practice of Shinrin Yoku or ‘Forest Bathing’, which is the practice of immersing all of our senses in the forest atmosphere. We know that today much of the developed world is experiencing a sharp increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) which are cause by lifestyles with poor diet, high stress and lack of movement. Breathing and walking mindfully in nature is a powerful tool for managing stress, boosting our immunity and lifting our spirits. Be sure to dress warm and be ready to move.

Anna Weick with Graduating Student Tracy Murphy

Feminist Solidarity: Engaging an Intergenerational, Inclusive and Intersectional Approach to Change, with SIS student, Anna Weick & IMA Hayley Lewis. How can we envision a future that accommodates all of us? Politics and language are changing fast and often divide more than they unite. Where does feminism fit in, and what can we do to remember that we’re all on the same team? This workshop is open to everyone, and will explore contemporary and future visions for gender liberation and feminism. What does this look like for each of us, and how can we build intergenerational and inclusive feminist spaces? How can we tell stories of the ways injustice shapes our lives? We will be envisioning new ways of building together through a reflective discussion. There is room for all of us. We’ll think about ways to resist cooptation and support grassroots feminist activism together, and consider the role of independent and community media in making this work visible. A group mini-zine will be created with reflections and ideas from participants willing to share.

Movement and Meaning, with HAS student, Rusti Poulette. This participatory workshop will include awareness games (from Theatre of the Oppressed) and a mix of somatic group practices to playfully investigate the meaning behind our movements. We’ll become curious about how we orient ourselves to space and to each other and we’ll explore the patterns of connection and disconnection that shape our bodies and our world.

Survivor Magic 101: Embodied Writing as Spellcraft, with IMA-TLA student, Jojo Donovan. How can we use writing to re-enchant our relationship with our bodies? What unspoken language is hiding in our guts and our bones and our fleshy folds? How can we translate that body-brilliance into prayers and kaons and incantations – to remind us of what we’ve survived, to return us to sensation amid a culture of desensitization, and to prick our skin and soul back into alertness to the wild new worlds our survival makes possible? Using guided meditation, body-mapping, group discussion, prompt writing, and free-writing, we will each tap into our own embodied wisdom to craft poems/spells/love notes to read to ourselves in moments of struggle, self-doubt, and dissociation.

Stefania Pantinella in One of Her Gardens

Embodied Plant Medicine Part I: Tasting, with HAS student Stefania Patinella. Healers and medicine people across history and culture have used direct, embodied communication with plants to tap into the powerful medicine they hold for the human body, mind and spirit. In this workshop, we will practice such direct knowing by tasting an extraction of a medicinal herb and using our senses, intuition, heart and imagination to listen to and learn something about it. The plant will be unknown to you so you can approach it without preconceived ideas. We will then share our individual experiences as a group, and begin to weave a collective story about this plant’s medicine. Finally, I will reveal the name of the herb and talk about its materia medica–its history of use, medicinal qualities, origin, botany and folklore–so we can tie our personal experiences into the plant’s wider tradition.

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Posted in Activism, Community Building, Consciousness Studies/Transpersonal Psychology, Deep Ecology & Bioregionalism, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Ethnobotany, Feminism, Women's & Gender Studies, Goddard Graduate Institute, Health Arts and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, Life Sciences, Plant Medicine, Residencies, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Sustainability & Place Studies, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership, Progressive Education, and Asking Important Questions: Ruth Farmer, Director of GGI

“A good leader leaves a path for the brilliance of others,” explains Ruth Farmer in this podcast interview with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Here she elaborates on how collaborative community can think together about important issues and take part in real dialogue, even if the dialogue is messy, or starts one direction and ends up in another.

Ruth also looks at who comes to Goddard and what they find: “We attract a lot of different kinds of people wanting to ask some very hard questions,” and she speaks to how being open to not knowing the answer to such questions is at the root of real solutions for problems of our time. “Leadership requires courage, and it requires the courage to be wrong — the courage to actually listen to someone’s argument and point-of-view that you disagree with. It requires being able to be quiet sometimes (sometimes you just have to listen)….It might mean you actually change your mind about something.”

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Kyle Bella and Our Viral Lives

Kyle Bella, who recently graduated from the Social Innovation and Sustainability MA program, recently shared his graduating student presentation virtually after presenting “Our Viral Lives” — an online archive he launched in December of 2014 — during his February 2018 graduation weekend. He explains that this archive “….has collected stories about the HIV/AIDS crisis, sexual health, and the shame and stigma that continue to shape our conversations about sexual health. I wrote about what goes into making a digital archive, how informal archives are better for social equity, how emotionality should guide writing histories of the present, and how utopia is important in understanding the world we want free from HIV.”

In reflecting on this journey to his work, he writes eloquently about his journey:

In 2006, I left high school to go to college early at Simon’s Rock. I developed such a deep foundation for intersectional thinking, driven by a feminist understanding of the world and an ongoing passion for LGBTQ rights. In 2009, I ended up at Goddard College. By 2011, I was beaten on the street and what could have ended my academic career turned into the catalyst for deeper thinking about race, gender, sexuality, and class. I earned a BA in 2012. I bounced around from Louisiana to NY to Philly to San Francisco back to NY without really finding home.

I joined the IMA program at Goddard soon after getting my BA, left for two semesters to the MFA in Creative Writing but left after I felt like I was doing a project bigger than myself. Then I went back to a Social Innovation and Sustainability focus without really feeling like I belonged there but then I recognized this is the kind of work I was supposed to do. I am able to both recognize systems of inequality and offer actionable ways in which to change these systems through storytelling.

And here I am today with an MA, with a project that’s always been about more than myself, that has been nourished by more than myself, that is about the nameless and faceless in a way that I can sympathize with because I feel that in a way my own project is about the recognition of a new kind of generational power, a call back to action, not through militancy but mourning.

We obviously live in a world that values neither militancy nor mourning. That takes the power of storytelling for granted. That renders marginalized voices on the fringes of society. But the reality is that the people that have most shaped society since 1981 have been the people that died from AIDS-related complications and the folks that took up a call to remember and remake a better world in their images.

We might not to imagine this truth, because it is so structured on the notion of absence, a lack of presence, our own capacity to reconstruct. But this is where we are and what this ultimately means.

Visit his “Viral Lives” archive here where you can hear his presentation while following along through his evocative PowerPoint.

Posted in AIDS/HIV Studies, Creative Non-Fiction, Cultural & Cross-Cultural Studies, Death and Dying Studies/Pastoral Care, Queer Studies, Sexuality & Erotic Studies, Social Innovation, Social Media | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Podcast: Lisa Evers and the Comfort Quest

Listen to a lively interview with Lisa Evers and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg in which Lisa discusses her Comfort Quest, a revolutionary new way for people struggling with pain and discomfort to aim their attention toward greater comfort and peace.

You can read further information about Lisa’s work in “The Comfort Quest by Lisa Evers,” and “Creating the Comfort Quest to Address Pain.”

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What Love, Transgressions, and Lucidity Have to Do With Real Education: James Sparrell’s Commencement Speech

GGI Faculty member James (Jim) Sparrell speaks about how “learning itself if fundamentality relationship, and this is one of the ways a Goddard education challenges traditional education” in his commencement address at the Spring 2018 Graduation Ceremony. Listen to Jim talk about Goddard’s education in relation to how to live, including the need for fierce lucidity, being loved even while transgressions, and other aspects of what makes for enduring and meaningful education. He talks about wild and wide turns in life lessons including spray paint, finding the nearest bakery, wood ducks, and transparency in life and cups, along with how sometimes education leads to rubbing “….the fur of dominant culture the wrong way.” Listen to the speech here.

Posted in Comedy, Community Building, Education, Graduation, Progressive Education, Transgressions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Podcast: Conflict Resolution, the Power of Numbers, and the I-Ching

Today, we launch our podcast series, featuring interviews with GGI students, alumni, and faculty. Here is faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg interviewing student Ryan Richards. Listen to the podcast here.

Ryan Richards, a Health Arts and Sciences student, shares his visionary work in bringing together Chinese philosophy, conflict resolution, the power of numbers to be effective symbols, and the kind of contemplative education that can empower individuals and build communities. “Primarily, everyone wants to be heard. You can’t resolve any conflicts without an open arena where people can communicate,” he says, explaining how a new approach can help people find a middle ground where spirit and matter, and science and symbols can meet. He’s currently working toward a thesis as well as an interactive webpage where people can learn, meet, and discover greater ways forward. He says of the Goddard approach, “This is the only program where you can pave your own path.”

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Faculty Workshops at the Spring 2018 Residency

Francis X. Charet, faculty

The AI Revolution: Will Machines Think and Dream? with Faculty Member, Francis X. Charet. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence and its technological applications raises some fundamental, intriguing and troubling questions. We are now entering a stage of modern technology that moves beyond machines that can correlate massive amounts of information, do complex tasks faster and with more precision that surpasses human capacity. Machines are being programed to replicate human neural networks that allow them to correlate information, analyze data, and make judgments on a scale and in a way that seemingly demonstrates independent capabilities. Artificial intelligence is transforming modern medicine, manufacturing, and even education. Will it be put to destructive ends as Stephen Hawkings, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have warned. Will machines eventually attain consciousness as we know it? Will machines think? Will they dream?

Sarah Bobrow-Williams

Creating and Keeping the Beloved Community in Our Activism, Work and Lives, with Faculty Members, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Sarah Bobrow-Williams. “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said. What does it take to make and sustain such a community where we work, live and strive for justice? Caryn and Sarah – from their varied experiences in organizations, arts-based initiatives, campaigns, workplaces, and institutions – will explore the values and practices of cultivating of facilitating and upholding beloved communities. We’ll then discuss andtrouble-shoot various scenarios to consider ways to navigate through conflict and clashes for the good for the community, and we’ll end the workshop with a writing prompt to consider ways to infuse the philosophy of keeping the belovedness in community through specific practices. This workshop is especially pertinent for all SIS and MA-TLA students as well as for anyone working with others for change.

Embodied Metaphors: Rupture and Repair in the Individual / Social Body, with Faculty Member Sarah Van Hoy. In this workshop we will look at the poetics of rupture and repair and how these metaphors occur in the language and practices of medicine and culture. We will examine the role of metaphor in medicine (and cognition generally) and the social shaping of embodied experience. Bring your ideas for rich conversation.

Feeling What’s Happening: Calming the Nervous System, Faculty Member, Lori Wynters. At times we can be stressed, in a state of “fight, flight, freeze,” with an overactive nervous system, raising our cortisol levels, which can impact sleep cycles, muscular, cardiovascular, immune and digestive systems and our every day thinking. We’ll explore the physiology of stress and experiential somatic practices from Somatic Experiencing, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, yoga, dance and breathing practices that can soothe the nervous system and stimulate the “relaxation response”, supporting the body’s re- centering and mending disconnection.

What Does It Mean, to Heal? with Faculty Member, Lise Weil. We are living a moment in which brokenness, division and disease are being exposed as never before, when healing is necessary—and possibly available—as never before. If cancer tells us it is senseless to consider human disease apart from the diseased earth, ecological devastation is the symptom of a diseased culture. Three powerful recent books—Eva Saulitis’ memoir Becoming Earth, Deena Metzger’s novel A Rain of Night Birds and Lidia Yuknavitch’s novel The Book of Joan—come to the question of disease and healing from a deep understanding that human and earth body are indissoluble. “What does it mean, to heal?”

Katt Lissard and Karen Campbell

Phony Scholarship: How to Prevent your Research from Spiraling off into your own private Disney World, with Faculty Members, Karen Campbell & Katt Lissard. Most of us approach our academic work searching for sources that confirm what we already believe and thus risk allowing our research to become distorted or less-than-challenging – or just plain dull. This workshop focuses on critical thinking, writing, ethics and research, or how to ensure your research findings come closest to representing the truth that is currently available and allow you to get deeply involved in discovering what you might not already know! We’ll tackle short readings from different perspectives on various topics, practice identifying key points, comparing, contrasting, and reporting. Topics include epigenetics, embodiment, consciousness and research methodologies (other topics if you request them in good time). Imagine a team of crack reporters trying to break a story. Or Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys teaming up to solve the mystery. Bring your magnifying glass, compass and a handy piece of twine!

Posted in Faculty, Uncategorized, Workshops | Leave a comment